LOUISVILLE, KY — For several innings, the offenses of East Carolina and Louisville were crawling along like the trains that roll past the outfield fence at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The first game of the NCAA Super Regional was scoreless through three innings and junior left-hander Jake Agnos of the Pirates was in the process of retiring the first 10 batters he faced.
Then the Cardinals took off like one of the jets from nearby Louisville International Airport.
The hosts scored four runs in the fourth, five more in the fifth, three in the sixth and two in the seventh. ECU coach Cliff Godwin began preparing for game two well before Louisville’s 14-1 win in the opener of a best-of -three was complete.
“We didn’t use our go-to guys out of the bullpen,” Godwin said. “Once we were down, 7-0, there was no need to. We got some guys some experience. We got some guys out there. I think every position player got an at-bat.”
That meant some of the Pirates’ bigger sticks got some rest for today’s must-win game. Bryant Packard, Turner Brown, Alec Burleson and Jake Washer all came out.
Spencer Brickhouse stayed in although the big first baseman spent some time in left field as Godwin juggled his lineup after the Cardinals erupted.
Brickhouse kept ECU from being shut out with his 14th homer of the season, a blast to right field in the sixth inning, that trimmed Louisville’s lead at the time to 9-1.
Seven Cardinal players had multi-hit games.
“Once they started rolling, it was really hard to stop them,” Godwin said.
Left-hander Reid Detmers (12-4) went seven innings for Louisville (48-16). He allowed five hits with one earned run and two walks with five strikeouts. Lefty Garrett Schmeltz worked the last two innings. He yielded two hits while striking out three.
“Detmers was extremely good,” Godwin said. “Best pitcher we’ve faced all year. He kept us off-balance, but once we got behind … it’s tough to score when the wind is blowing in and you’re facing one of the best pitchers in the country.”
Brickhouse went 2-for-4 to lead ECU offensively.
Louisville first baseman Logan Wyatt doubled with one away on a 3-1 pitch to get the Cards started in the fourth.
Tyler Fitzgerald followed with a double to score Wyatt. Alex Binelas walked and Jake Snider singled to load the bases. Designated hitter Danny Oriente had a 3-run double.
“It’s the game of baseball,” Agnos (11-3) said. “They’re a good-hitting team. … It’s hard to stop a team that’s got the momentum.”
The Cards totaled 18 hits as Zach Barnes, Ryder Giles, Garrett Saylor, Evan Odum, Carter Spivey and Connor Norby made mound appearances for the Pirates. Fitzgerald finished 4-for-5 with two RBIs and four runs. Saylor, Spivey and Norby turned in scoreless stints.
Alec Burleson had a two-out double for ECU in the first. Bryant Packard singled with one out in the third and Burleson was hit by a pitch with two out. A wild pitch by Detmers put runners at second and third before Jake Washer went down swinging on a 3-2 pitch.
The Pirates left eight runners on base.
Rain was in the forecast and some sprinkles fell but there was no weather delay during the contest that lasted three hours and 13 minutes with 2,955 on hand. ESPN2’s coverage shifted elsewhere before Louisville’s win was finished.
Neither coach named a starting pitcher for Saturday’s noon matchup, but lefty Jake Kuchmaner (7-2, 2.99 ERA) was the Saturday starter for much of the season for the Pirates.
The game time was shifted from 3 p.m. because of weather concerns
ECU has its back to the wall as it did throughout its regional, winning four straight to get to the Super Regional.
The road to the College World Series has become even more of an uphill battle for the Pirates — on the road against a program looking for its fifth trip to Omaha.
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